Ultimate Guide for Home Storage and Organization

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The pros make it look easy (we're looking at you Marie Kondo) but there's A LOT that goes into home storage and organization. And while most of us know on an intellectual level that being organized is good for us, frees up the mind, and increases productivity, completely overhauling or just tweaking in-place organizational systems can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Most professional organizers will tell you that a successful plan, for any room, begins with a good old-fashioned edit. Saying goodbye to your possessions is never easy, and this is often the hardest part, but it's worth it. Divide your items into three categories — donate, toss, and keep — and then get busy. Once you've completed the purge, you'll probably need to stock up on hardworking (and attractive) storage and organization essentials to corral your pared-down belongings. Be sure to keep your label maker handy.

Read on for the no-fail tips and tricks that you'll need to make every room in the house a little more orderly.

Living Rooms

You don't need to sacrifice personal flair at the expense of devising a workable storage and organization system for your living room. While you might not be entertaining much indoors these days, regardless of its size, your living room is likely still functioning as a gathering spot. But, without a proper storage plan, it can easily be overrun with office, dining, napping, or playtime must-haves. Arm yourself with a few multifunctional pieces such as a hard-working coffee table with storage, a side table with one or more drawers, and a media console or TV stand for storing all things A/V related. You'll find a multitude of uses for baskets and bins in this room as well — to stash extra blankets, pillows, magazines, and even remotes — freeing up valuable surface area.

Dining Rooms

Whether you have an ever-growing collection of entertaining essentials or fine china, your dining room storage might be feeling a tad bit insufficient. As with most rooms in the house, square footage will be a factor in determining your best options. Is there space for a classic piece of furniture, such as a hutch or buffet? If not, don't despair — there are plenty of practical storage and organization solutions for small dining rooms as well.

Make the most of integrated architectural features — arches, alcoves, or awkward, empty corners — with space-saving built-ins such as cabinets, drawers, and shelves.

Kitchens

Even if you don't fancy yourself a bona fide chef, it's easy to feel overrun by the appliances, bakeware, gadgets, and everyday basics that are kept in a kitchen. Unsure about where to begin? It bears repeating: Edit down to the essentials before you tackle your kitchen storage and organization (particularly if you have a petite cook space). That means bidding adieu to that fondue pot you still haven't used, old baking sheets, and the waffle iron collecting dust. Then begin organizing cabinets and drawers — sort utensils with drawer dividers and place the ones you reach for most often on the counter in attractive vessels. Make use of interior doors, pull-out shelves, and cubbies. If you have space for a cabinet or a kitchen island, they're ideal for overflow items — cookbooks, oversize bowls, and pots and pans.

Aside from standard storage and organization hacks, unexpected kitchen storage ideas are another way to make the most of your culinary space, regardless of its size. Open shelving is a popular stand-in for traditional cabinets where you can showcase a selection of dishware or your personal collection of ceramics. While it requires an artistic eye to curate those envy-inducing displays, open shelving is an ideal small kitchen storage solution that gives the illusion of more space.

Bathrooms

Carving out space for all of your bathroom storage and organization needs might feel like the ultimate brainteaser. After all, from towels to toiletries, there isn't any other room that requires stashing so many essentials in such a limited amount of real estate. Get serious about paring down to ease up on your bathroom storage demands (do you really need four different types of shampoo?), and then get creative by carving out wall nooks, hanging a medicine cabinet, and utilizing the oft-overlooked area above the toilet. It's prime for open shelving or wall-mounted storage, like a European-inspired train rack to add old-world elegance or a trendy ladder — both function as stand-ins for the everyday towel bar. These clever tricks are particularly relevant if you're dealing with a spatially challenged bathroom.

If you weren't blessed with a linen closet, freestanding cabinets are a practical and attractive alternative that can always be repurposed down the road for storage in another room.

When it comes to bathroom storage and organization, utilize every square inch of space to maximize efficiency and streamline your morning routine. Keep clutter at bay with attractive countertop storage, available in a variety of shapes and styles, that can be nestled next to the sink or on shallow shelves.

Bedrooms

The science is in and clutter-free bedrooms result in a better night's sleep, less stress, and decreased anxiety so it's no wonder that bedroom storage and organization ideas top the priority list for decluttering. The last thing you want to do is cram in more furniture than your sanctuary can comfortably hold, so whether you sleep in a spacious bedchamber or a cozy boudoir, look for workhorse items such as beds with built-in storage, a nightstand that doubles as a desk, and under-the-bed storage that can be mined with slim profile drawers and bins. And, if you have enough space, a dresser or armoire will ease the strain on your closet.

Kids Spaces

"How can my little ones have SO much stuff?!" is a universal question parents often ask themselves. Having a storage and organization plan for children is a surefire way to ensure your entire home isn't overrun with toys, stuffed animals, and games. The age of your kiddo(s) will be an important consideration when deciding on your approach to storage. For the younger set, focus on open shelving with easily accessible soft bins dedicated to sorting items by type, and label them with pictures in lieu of words so they can help with clean up. School age children will need a desk, more space for clothes, and a bedside table. If you have room in your budget, custom built-ins — including bunk beds and floor-to-ceiling bookcases — are a great space-saving solution that make the most out of square footage.

Closets

You don't need a walk-in closet to create an easy-to-navigate space capable of holding all of your bags, shoes, and clothing. Armed with closet storage and organization essentials such as hard-working bins and baskets (can't get enough of those), shelf dividers, and slim hangers, you can squeeze precious storage out of even the smallest closet. Are you desperate for additional clothing storage? There are plenty of makeshift closets that are attractive enough to store in the bedroom. These same solutions work for linen and coat closets, too.

Office

If you're working from home these days, you're not alone. And you also wouldn't be alone if your home office was in a constant state of disarray. Home office storage and organization essentials will increase productivity and help create an inspiring workspace. Anchor the area with a traditional desk or a standing version and line the walls with custom built-ins or off-the-shelf bookcases for supplemental storage.

Make your WFH setup a place that you actually look forward to spending time in, by adding cozy textiles, artwork or beautiful wall hangings, and keeping clutter at bay with cute and practical storage options. Don't forget to make use of desktop accessories to help keep your work surface looking stylish and tidy.

Laundry Rooms

Whether you've created an ample laundry room in a basement or garage, or you've carved out a tiny space in the hallway closet, employing even the most basic laundry room storage and organization ideas will make doing the wash feel like less of a chore. Decant detergent into pretty bottles for a luxurious alternative to plastic and cardboard, and then store them on easy-to-access open shelving — or, for less styling pressure, opt for closed cabinets. Add a hanging bar to facilitate air-drying delicates and gather miscellaneous cleaning products such as stain removers, bleach alternatives, and dryer balls in, you guessed it, attractive bins and baskets.

Garage

These days garages seem to do a whole lot more than just keep cars safe and covered: They're being converted into gyms, offices, game rooms, and laundry rooms, just to name a few. But if you'd like your carport to pull double duty, working as both a garage AND a useable bonus room, you'll need to devise a clever organizational system that includes lots of shelving, possibly a pegboard for tools, and clever bike storage solutions.

Outdoors

Most of us are spending more time than ever outdoors. Needless to say, a soup-to-nuts storage and organization plan for areas, including the patio or deck, front yard, back yard, and garden, will make being outside even more enjoyable. And bonus: Now you'll be able to find important essentials like holiday decorations and pool floaties without pulling your hair out.

Where to Shop for Storage and Organization Solutions

The Container Store

Target

The Home Depot

Open Spaces


Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA

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